The Bisto Kids: Shipper's Manifesto

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Title: The Bisto Kids: Shipper's Manifesto
Creator: justacat
Date(s): June 13, 2005
Medium: online
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links: The Bisto Kids: Shipper's Manifesto; archive link with expanded comments, part 1, archive link with expanded comments, part 2, page 1; archive link with expanded comments, part 2, page 2
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The Bisto Kids: Shipper's Manifesto is a 2005 essay by justacat at The Shipper's Manifesto.

The subject is Bodie/Doyle.

Some Excerpts

[first part]:

The first time I ever saw an episode of The Professionals, I had no idea who the characters were, had never read a story, and the sum total of my knowledge Doyle? And oh, those clothes, those haircuts.… My poor eyes!

Insidiously, without my even realizing it, the show and the characters worked their way deep under my skin, and within six months I was so obsessed with this fandom, with the B/D pairing, that I was spending hundreds of hours overhauling and entirely reworking the online Pros archive (not to mention begging shamelessly and pretty incessantly for anyone to talk with me about the show!). And in doing the overhaul, time and time again I came upon fans who, though they might have moved on, though Pros may no longer have been their immediate passion, still retained a deep, abiding love for Bodie and Doyle, a lasting devotion to the show and the fandom.

What is it about Pros that inspires this kind of loyalty, this kind of obsession? Why has its appeal proved so enduring, even in the U.S., where the show was (with a few minor exceptions) never even broadcast and fans have had to deal with PAL video format and umpteenth-generation tapes and now DVD region coding just to see an episode? How is it that in this day and age of flashy fandoms and special effects, Popslash and Buffy and Firefly and huge online archives, new fans continue to be attracted to the arguably somewhat outdated world of CI5?

Well, there's a reason for this fandom's longevity, as it happens, and that reason can be summed up in two words: Bodie and Doyle. We all know that Kirk/Spock was the first slash pairing, the subtext that launched a thousand ships, the father (mother?) of them all - but The Professionals was arguably the first slash fandom, the first begun as a slash fandom and for many years exclusively slash, without either a general fandom like Star Trek's or a sizeable relationship-driven but still "gen" fandom like Starsky and Hutch's. The Pros fandom was always essentially the Bodie/Doyle fandom.

To distill the appeal of the show and the pairing, not to mention two decades of fandom, into 5,000 words (well, give or take a few thousand!) feels like an impossible task. In drafting this, the more I wrote the more I realized: there simply is no way. The best I could hope to do would be to introduce newbies to, and remind longer-term fans of, a few of the incidents and episodes and moments in which the pairing is grounded, and to touch glancingly upon some of the major elements that, to my mind, make this pairing work so well, make it move me, touch me, more deeply and in more ways than any other pairing ever has.

[last part]:

There is simply enormous appeal to the idea of two tough, hardened guys coming together in the context of their dangerous, gritty, soul-threatening, violent job, a job that virtually requires them to rely on each other, turn to each other, need each other for everything - for sanity, for companionship, for a moral compass, and of course for life itself.

And of course, there is great appeal to the idea of two such hard, emotionally-well-defended and independent men, in such a "macho" occupation, open to blackmail, at risk of losing one another every single day as an occupational hazard, finding love together. It's difficult to resist the idea that the bantering, the fun, the black humor, and the occasional almost shy tenderness they share with each other - and with no one else - are the few rays of light in their uniquely bleak world; that their relationship with each other is what saves their lives from being dark and empty - that without each other they'd have no one, they'd be truly alone.

In No Stone, the pregnant wife of a young CI5 agent who has just been killed sobs furiously at Doyle, "it's OK for you, you don't have anyone." And one can't help but feel that if they didn't have each other she might be right, that without each other their lives would be devoid of love and caring and connection, they'd be alone. But they do have each other - for hope, for salvation, for comfort in the face of a thankless job with few rewards and little ultimate chance of success, for understanding, for acceptance of even their darker sides - for love.

They have each other, and we have them - the beauty and power and understated intensity of their bond, the obvious depth of their devotion to each other, the humor and affection and tenderness they show toward each other, so unexpected between two such hardened, tough-as-nails men, and all the more moving for that. To those - like me - who are drawn to this sort of thing, their appeal is timeless, utterly irresistible, and unrivaled by any other fandom or pairing.

Which, in a nutshell, is why Bodie and Doyle have captured - no, stolen - the hearts and imaginations of countless slashergirls for two decades and counting.